The Modern Age Brahmin - 3 - Rebirth


Does there have to be a Law? This is the question I pose to you.

The Upanishadic thoughts - especially the ones pertaining to the One and the Infinite and their interchangeability is something that I find very intuitive and self-explanatory. There is, has been and always shall be the One and again the One is Infinite in all aspects and so the One and the Infinite are the same (please let us not get into semantics and try to appreciate the essence). As long as this is the state of affairs, I am pretty happy. It presupposes every possible question conceived and yet to be conceived.

What happens after death? Does doing something bad incur bad Karma? What happens if I kill someone and then attain Brahman? These questions are utterly irrelevant in the context of the Infinite.

It is absolutely impossible to reconcile a Law of Moral Conduct or Law of Karma or any law for that matter with the Infinte, irrespective of what any sacred text in any religion propounds. The Infinite stands for freedom and laws stand for rules and the two of hem can never go hand in hand. Morality, conduct, duty (Karma) - these should be kept out of the purview of spirituality - they are more to do with human nature than anything else and should be outsourced to the Great Leaders, sociologists and to society at large.

There are certain aspects of our Vedic (and Upanishadic) thoughts that I find very disturbing and in fact reject outright.

They jar on the senses and force my sensibilities to instantly rebel and revolt. Let us take the case of the Law of Karma, rebirth (the Vedic theory of transmigration) and the duties of a Karma Yogi.

The Upanishads say that by doing ones duty, whatever that is, with dedication and self-abnegation, one is slowly moving towards the realization of the Infinite (or Brahman). These text go on to expound that the Karma Yogi slowly starts losing his sense of Self and his Self expands to encompass more and more people. He doesn't feel for himself but when somebody in his vicinity feels something that feeling registers in the Karma Yogis senses. The collective multitude of feeling all around become his feeling, the collective pain all around become his pain, the collective misery all around becomes his misery and so on and so forth. His Self expands to slowly encompass the entire Universe - conceptually his Self is now Infinite and thus he is now one with Brahman, although he is very much alive. This, so to say, achieving of Oneness is the end result. There are various other means of expanding the Self apart from Karma Yoga - they are Bhakti Yoga and Gyan Yoga.

The one that I find very hard to digest as far as spirituality is concerned is the doctrine of Karma Yoga particularly its linkage to transmigration. As a moral and ethical code of conduct guide, the doctrine is invaluable - like a lamp in a dark night. However, linking ones duty to spirituality is disturbing to say the least, because duty and spirituality cannot have any relation. In spirituality, we are dealing with realizations - we are trying to transcend the boundaries and constraints of our existence and attempting to realize the Infinite. There is nothing anthropomorphic in That which we are trying to comprehend.

What is duty? Who defines duty? What defines duty? These questions do not have any relation with spirituality. Spirituality is about the freedom of Spirit whereas Duty is about being tied down. These are essentially two separate concepts. In the context of the Infinite, does duty have any significance? If I am a Karma Yogi and killing is my duty and I kill a man and do not feel guilty about it, I do not incur a sin. I am merely doing my duty. That is what they say.

"Karamanyevaadhikarste maa faleshu kadachan" - Duty is your only right not the results

"Niyatam kuru karma twam karma jyayo hyakarmana" - Do your duty as prescribed for action for dutys sake is superior to inaction.

These are moral and ethical statements and more importantly context-based and should not be confused with Spirituality. The moment we say duty, it means that our focus has shifted from the Infinite to us (the finite) - it is a reflection of our ego-centricity or human-centricity - it is based on the assumption that humans are the center of existence because duties are something inherently tied to humans.

Now someone might say, that this is not true. Even an ant has a duty - the worker ant's duty is to help the queen ant. But is that duty? It is the instinct and basic nature of the ant to do whatever it does.

A person who has done bad karma assumes a lower life form in his next birth. In that state of lower life, he (who has now become an it) just uses up his bad karama and gets born as a human once again in his next life. There is a whole set of thoughts and writings on the theory of bondage and Sanchita-Karma/Prarbhdha Karma and how transmigration occurs.

Are we even going to regard these ideas as having anything to do with spirituality?

Maybe these ideas satisfy most men, but for the true Advaitist Brahmin, for the true seeker of spirituality, these explanations will not do. We need answers that are intellectually more satisfying and spiritually more elevating. Life after birth, good karma, bad karma, duty - to me these explanations do not make sense in the context of spirituality. With no disrespect to others, let us leave these ideas and their implementations to the God-men, the mythologist, the ritualists, the sociologist and to the people who follow these ideas. At this point of time, this is what I think. We all need to do some more research and develop better understanding of what is being attempted to be showcased through these principles. The Old Masters were indeed the true Masters. But, intuitively these ideas are unacceptable. The solid rationalization that we have as far as The Infinite is concerned is missing out here.

In the context of spirituality, there can never be a Law of Duty - if there is a law or if at all a Law is possible - it is the Law of the Infinite or the Universe. Another side of the same coin is the Law of One - there is a oneness that permeates through everything in this universe.

Does that mean that one should not follow ones duty? That is a totally separate issue - it is a social, moral and ethical issue best left for society to decide.

My point is - when we discuss spirituality - let us keep things like duty, code of conducts, rebirths, anthropomorphism and personal Gods out of it. These are not for people like us - the true work-in-progress Advaitist Brahmins.

"Waiter: Sir, what would you like to have?"
"Me: A large whisky please, the regular, no soda, just ice. And please get me your special Crabs Claw today. Thank you"